For Sacramento-Area Seniors, Saving Medicare is a Life-or-Death Matter

by Rebecca Greenberg Band

It’s tough to decipher political rhetoric from reality, especially when it comes to the Medicare debate. But for seniors who rely on Medicare as a lifeline, the concerns about GOP proposals to drastically reduce or eliminate the program are crystal clear.

“Will I be able to find health insurance? I’m 71 years old!”

“How can Medicare be considered an ‘entitlement’ when I paid into it all my working career?”

“Will my wife and I receive a refund of the money we have put into Medicare?”

These are just a few of the tough questions voiced by Sacramento-area seniors at today’s community town hall in Rancho Cordova, in Republican Rep. Dan Lungren’s district. For these and countless other seniors who rely on Medicare for their life-saving medical treatments, the GOP’s plot to essentially do away with the Medicare program isn’t just a political ploy — it’s a life-or-death situation.

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IKEA Workers Begin Building a Better Factory

” victory for workers, employees at IKEA’s Swedwood plant in Danville, Virginia, voted overwhelmingly to form a union Wednesday. Workers at the bookcase and furniture assembly site will be represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW).

In true IKEA fashion, the workers have begun to assemble a better future with their own hands. By organizing into a union they have gained a voice on the job and a place at the proverbial Scandinavian-styled table. They responded to the specific problems taking place in Danville, and now have the tools in hand to fashion a new workplace.

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Pension Capital Invested by AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust Generates Hundreds of Union Jobs in San Francisco

The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust has committed $70 million of union pension capital to help finance construction of the 333 Harrison Apartments in San Francisco. Work on the 326-unit residential development is expected to generate approximately 600 jobs for members of San Francisco’s building and construction trades unions.

Besides its investment in 333 Harrison, the HIT is currently providing $35 million in financing to build two other San Francisco residential projects – the $80.4 million Potrero Launch development in the Central Waterfront area and the $48 million Arc Light Co. residences in the city’s South Beach neighborhood. Together, these three projects represent approximately 1,340 union construction jobs, 616 housing units, and $105 million in HIT financing.

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Love at First Spark: Electric Vehicles Sizzle with Clean, Green Solar Power at IBEW Local 569’s San Diego Training Center

was joined by State Senator Christine Kehoe, 39th District, business, environmental and veteran partners to unveil a new solar-powered electric vehicle charging station at the San Diego Electrical Training Center that is available to the local community for free public use.

As one of the national test cities chosen for the Department of Energy’s “EV Project,” San Diego will see thousands of charging units installed in homes and businesses over the next two years funded by grants from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This infusion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure is creating much-needed green jobs for IBEW 569 electricians at a time when California continues to struggle from the effects of the Great Recession.

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California Makes it Easier for Unemployed Workers to Qualify for Training Benefits and Keep UI Benefits

announced that it had successfully implemented changes to the California Training Benefits (CTB) program as result of legislation co-sponsored by the California Labor Federation last year. The measure, AB 2058 by Assemblyman Marty Block, expanded program eligibility for individuals attending school or training while collecting UI benefits.

The problem was that many unemployed workers who were eligible to get training decided not to do so for fear of losing their UI benefits. Prior automatically approved training was limited to programs funded by the Employment Training Panel, the federal Workforce Investment Act, CalWORKs, and the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act. A UI recipient seeking training not authorized under these funding sources had to endure a lengthy and confusing eligibility process through EDD that often delayed training, disrupted or suspended UI benefits, and sometimes even jeopardized an existing UI claim.

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Bay Citizen First Start-Up News Website to Join Union

voted to affiliate with the Pacific Media Workers Guild, Local 39521 of The Newspaper Guild-CWA (TNG-CWA). This is the first start-up news website to form a union.

In a letter to the website’s CEO Lisa Frazier before the vote, the editorial staff wrote:

We believe The Bay Citizen, as one of the pioneering exponents of new civic journalism, should also be a leading example in the area of workplace democracy.

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Cuts to Higher Education Shortchange California’s Future

When I went to Cal State Hayward in the late 90's, I couldn't understand why anyone went anywhere else. Small classes, great teachers, and a student body who were passionate and excited to be there. We all worked, many had kids, most were the first in the family to go to college. We were tired, bedraggled, and usually late to class but we were in love with this new life of learning.

I worked as a tutor in the afternoons and as a waitress on the weekends. I paid each quarter as it came, maybe $400 dollars tuition and $200 more on books? I was able to pay my way through college, five years and a double-major, on two part-time jobs and a Cal-Grant. And after graduation I had the freedom to do exactly the work I wanted without the crushing burden of massive student loans.

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Sempra Energy Proposal Could Cost as Many as 15,000 U.S. Jobs with California Hardest Hit

Sempra Energy’s plan to offshore green energy production to Mexico would result in as many as 15,000 lost U.S. jobs and nearly $300 million in lost local, state and federal tax revenue. 90% of the direct job losses would occur in Imperial County, which had the highest unemployment rate in the nation as of April 2011 at 27.9%

The study, “Should Green Jobs Be Outsourced: A Case Study of Lost Jobs and Lost Opportunities,” was authored by Dr. Peter Philips, Professor of Economics at the University of Utah.

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Californians Unite for Day of Action on Trade

to oppose the pending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, South Korea, and Panama, a position shared by the California Democratic Party, the California Labor Federation, the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, and hundreds of other organizations. The event, hosted by the California Fair Trade Coalition, will put pressure on every Member of Congress in the state to oppose the deals, which are likely to see a ratification vote in Congress soon.

The FTAs, originally negotiated by President Bush in 2007, have faced constant pressure from opponents in Congress and a growing skepticism from the public, including 69% of Americans who believe free trade costs jobs. This isn't surprising, as a recent study has found that the U.S. economy lost 700,000 jobs due to NAFTA, with at least 2.4 million more lost due to liberalized trade to China. California alone has lost over 800,000 jobs due to bad trade policy.

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Corporate Profits Skyrocket at Expense of Workers’ Wages

Between the wall-to-wall coverage on the cable news networks of the Casey Anthony trial and the latest exploits of the Kardashian sisters, it’s unlikely that a new study showing that we have a wageless recovery under way will ever see the light of day. And that’s really too bad, because it happens to be one of the most important stories of the year.

The report, by economists at Northeastern University, found that while national income rose by $528 billion between mid-2009 and the end of 2010, 88% of that growth went to corporate profits and only 1% went to workers’ wages. What’s more, the share of income growth going to wages was far lower than in previous recoveries.

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